The Lookout Mountain, one of the best hikes near Denver, Colorado

21 Best Hikes Near Denver Colorado (By a Local)

The Mile High City has a ton of places to get outside, so it’s no surprise that we have lots of great hiking trails near Denver as well! There are trails for every ability, from paved paths that are perfect for strollers and wheelchairs to technical climbs that only the most experienced hikers should try. 

As a Denver local who loves hiking, I thought I’d write up this quick list of some of my favorite hiking trails near me, to help others looking to get out on the trails. I’ve indicated difficulty for each of these Denver hikes, and also included links so you can easily add them to your Google Maps with one click.

Most of these best hikes near Denver, Colorado are close to the metro area, though I did include a couple of spectacular Rocky Mountain National Park hikes that are worth the drive. If you want more trails, check out our post on the best hikes in Colorado.

Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions. Thank you!

21 Best Denver Area Hiking Trails

Trading Post Trail, Red Rocks Park

Morrison

View of information about Trading Post Trail

🥾 Easy | 1.4 miles | Google Maps | Red Rocks Website | 30 minute drive from Denver | Cost: free

Red Rocks Park isn’t just for concerts! The park’s great hiking trails are one reason it’s the #1 thing on the Travel Lemming list of what to do in and near Denver

Of all the Red Rocks Park hikes, this is the most family-friendly one, being only 1.4 miles round trip. you’ll get great views of the red rock formations and of Denver. Because of its proximity to the city and the views, it’s one of my favorite hikes near Denver.

👉 Pro Tip: This hike near Denver can get hot in the sun. If you’re hiking in summer, go in the morning, or as it’s cooling off in the evening, and bring water. 

South Valley Park

Ken Caryl Valley

View from the South Valley Park during a morning hike

🥾 Easy | 5.5 miles | Google Maps | South Valley Park Website | 30 minute drive from Denver | Cost: free

South Valley Park has beautiful red rock formations and flat hiking trails that are great for running or an easy hike. The trail network includes Coyote Song and Grazing Elk Loop, creating a nice 5.5-mile round trip hike with great views and wildflowers in spring… and often deer, too. 

The Space Age-looking silver building you see to the west of is Lockheed Martin. Because it’s close to the freeway and to many neighborhoods, it’s a popular place for hikes near Denver, especially after work!

👉 Need a Place to Stay in Denver? Check out our guide to the best places to stay in Denver or our local’s list of the best neighborhoods in Denver.

Lair O’ The Bear

Idledale

Water running down a river in Lair O’ The Bear
This is a beautiful spot at any time of year!

🥾 Easy | 1.5 miles | Google Maps | Lair O’ The Bear Website | 30 minute drive from Denver | Cost: free

Take the short Bruin Bluff Trail at this park for a loop trail that crosses the river and heads slightly up the mountain. If you want to extend your hike, continue southeast on the Bear Creek Trail to Little Park, where you’ll find a 1930s-era shelter that used to provide water for Denver drivers. 

Lair O’ the Bear is one of my family’s favorite places to hike near Denver because, although you’re close to the city, the river and mountain views make you feel far away.

📚 Related Reading: If you’re staying in Denver, check out our list of places to stay in Denver and pamper yourself after a day on the trails!

Mount Falcon Castle Trail From West Trailhead

Indian Hills

A ruins under the clear blue sky in Mount Falcon Castle Trail

🥾 Easy | 2.3 miles | Google Maps | Mt. Falcon Website | 30 minute drive from Denver | Cost: free

There are several Denver hiking trails at Mt. Falcon, so you can adjust your walk, depending on how strenuous you want to get! This hike to a ruined castle is always a popular one! Start at the trail at the parking lot. 

When it forks, take the Tower Trail to the right and up to a fire tower, with views of Red Rocks and Denver. Keep going on the Tower Trail to the Meadow Trail and take a left. When it ends at Castle Trail, take another left and you’ll come to the old Walker castle. 

Waterton Canyon

Littleton

Big horn sheep lined up while walking in Waterton Canyon
My, what big horns you have!

🥾 Easy to Moderate | 1 – 12.4 miles | Google Maps | Waterton Canyon Website | 40 minute drive from Denver | Cost: free

Waterton Canyon isn’t hard to hike, you’ll simply have to decide if you want to go all the way to the Strontia Springs Dam 6.2 miles up the trail, or turn around earlier.

Since you can pick your length, this is some of the best hiking near Denver for kids and adults, with plenty to see even if you don’t make it to the dam. The trail follows the South Platte River, and just about every time I’ve hiked it, we’ve seen bighorn sheep.

Maxwell Falls

Evergreen

View of water flowing in Maxwell Falls

🥾 Easy to Moderate | 1.6 – 4 miles | Google Maps | Maxwell Falls Website | 45 minute drive from Denver | Cost: free

There are three ways to get to Maxwell Falls. Park in the Upper Parking Lot and follow the Upper Falls trail for half a mile to the end. You can also follow the Cliff Trail Loop from the Upper Lot, which gives you great views before you follow the stream and get to the falls. That’s about a 3-mile round trip. 

Finally, you can take the Lower Maxwell Falls trail, which is a moderate hike through lodgepole pines along the riverbed. You’ll climb about 1,100 feet over 4.6 miles round trip on this hike. You can also bring dogs on this hike if they stay leashed.

Castlewood Canyon

Franktown

View of water running on rocks in Castlewood Canyon

🥾 Moderate | 4.3 miles | Google Maps | Castlewood Canyon Website | 40 minute drive from Denver | Cost: $10 for a Daily Vehicle Pass

While a lot of people head to the Rocky Mountains, Castlewood Canyon on the eastern plains near Denver has lots to offer! The Rim Rock Trail to Creek Trail Loop is 4.3 miles long, and you’ll head by a waterfall on the way. Dogs are allowed if they’re on a leash.

📚 Related Reading: Looking for more things to do around Denver? Check out these 58 Best Things to Do in Denver for ideas!

Staunton State Park 

Pine

View of a greenery from Staunton State Park

🥾 Easy to Difficult | 2.15 miles to 10.8 miles | Google Maps | Staunton State Park Website | 45 minute drive from Denver | Cost: $10 for a Daily Vehicle Pass

Staunton State Park is one of Colorado’s newer parks, and has beautiful views of the Rocky Mountains as you hike! It also has a variety of hiking trails for every level.

Kids will enjoy the 2-mile round trip hike to Davis Ponds to fish, but if you’re looking for a more strenuous hike, try the hike to Elk Falls Overlook. This is definitely a great Colorado state park near Denver to check out!

St. Mary’s Glacier

Idaho Springs

A lake of blue water in St. Mary’s Glacier

🥾 Moderate | 1.75 miles | Google Maps | St. Mary’s Glacier | One hour drive from Denver | Cost: $5 (bring cash and a pen for the fee envelope)

St. Mary’s Glacier is a fantastic day hike and one of the best hikes near Denver thanks to the views! It’s a short hike, but it’s very rocky. I’ve done it with kids and they actually have a lot of fun scrambling the rocks, just take it nice and slow.

Once you get to the lake, continue over the bridge and you can walk up to the glacier area, where people have fun sliding and even skiing in heavier snow. Dogs are allowed on leashes.

👉 My Favorite Gear: Trekking poles can be a huge help with rocks, and take pressure off your knees, too. I have a pair from REI that I love. 

Lookout Mountain

Golden

Overlooking view from Lookout Mountain
Lots of incredible hikes! 

🥾 Moderate | 4.4 miles | Google Maps | Lookout Mountain Website | 27 minute drive from Denver | Cost: free

There are several choices for hiking trails here! The Meadow Loop and Forest Loop Trails are around a mile long and great for kids.

If you want more of a challenge, the Windy Saddle Lookout Mountain Trail is a 4.4-mile out and back trail with views of Golden and the Front Range, and wildflowers in spring.

Alderfer/Three Sisters

Evergreen

Travel Lemming editor Abigail with her dogs in Evergreen Park
Dogs with a view!

🥾 Moderate | 4.2 miles | Google Maps | Alderfer/Three Sisters Website | 43 minute drive from Denver | Cost: free

There are lots of places to hike and mountain bike at Alderfer/Three Sisters Park. The hike to Evergreen Mountain is a fun one because it mixes up trail hiking with a little (easy) rock climbing.

At the end, you get a great view of the town of Evergreen and mountain scenery. Dogs are (obviously!) allowed on-leash.

👉 My Favorite Gear: Don’t forget to hydrate your hound on a hike! We use a collapsible bowl like this one.

Deer Creek Canyon Park

Littleton

View from Deer Creek Canyon Park

🥾 Easy | 2.7 miles | Google Maps | Deer Creek Canyon Website | 30 minute drive from Denver | Cost: free

Like many of the Denver hiking trails on this list, Deer Creek Canyon has a variety of options to choose from, so you can tailor your workout! This is also a great place for trail running near Denver, with views of the city and foothills. 

The Deer Creek Canyon Loop Trail follows the Meadowlark Trail from the parking lot. When you hit the Plymouth Creek Trail, head left to hike back to the parking lot. This is one of the most convenient hikes near Denver!

👉 My Favorite Gear: It’s important to stay hydrated in Colorado! When I’m running, I like to use a water belt like this one – it holds 18 oz. of water, plus your phone and keys. 

Carpenter Peak

Roxborough

View of the author's daughter enjoying the scenery in Carpenter Peak

🥾 Moderate/Difficult | 6.2 miles | Google Maps | Roxborough State Park Website | 41 minute drive from Denver | Cost: $10 Daily Vehicle Pass

Carpenter Peak is a well-maintained trail near Denver at Roxborough State Park. The hike to the peak is a steady upward climb for three miles. When you get to the top, you’re rewarded with views of Denver, the Pike National Forest, and snowcapped mountains in the distance. 

In late spring you’ll be treated to blooming wildflowers. In summer this can be a hot hike so start early and bring plenty of water!

Whenever you go, you’ll soon realize why Roxborough State Park makes it to the top of the Travel Lemming list of the best day trips around Denver.

Beaver Brook Trail

Genesee

View of the author's kids in Beaver Brook Trail
We only did part of the trail with little kids! 

🥾 Moderate/Difficult | 5 miles | Google Maps | Beaver Brook Trail | 30 minute drive from Denver | Cost: free

The Chavez and Beaver Brook Trail Loop is about 5 miles round trip and is a nice, shady hike with a river at the bottom. There’s a pretty good incline and rocky places but older kids can manage the hike.

Park at the trail off Stapleton Road and follow signs for the Beaver Brook trailhead. Take the Braille Trail to Chavez Trail, then turn left onto Beaver Brook Trail to loop back to the car. 

William F. Hayden Park 

Green Mountain

View of the author trail running in William Hayden Park
Great for hiking or trail running!

🥾 Moderate/Difficult | 6.5 miles | Google Maps | William Hayden Park Website | 22 minute drive from Denver | Cost: free

There is a network of hiking trails running through William Hayden Park. The Green Mountain Trail takes you on a 6.5 mile loop up to the highest point in the park, where you can see across the Front Range. 

Mt. Bierstadt

Clear Creek County

View from the top of Mount Bierstadt

🥾 Difficult | 7.8 miles | Google Maps | Mt. Bierstadt Website | One hour and twenty minute drive from Denver | Cost: free

If you want to hike a Colorado 14er, Mount Bierstadt is one of the easier mountain hikes close to Denver for a first-timer to conquer. But just because it’s one of the easier 14ers doesn’t mean it’s easy! 

You’ll want to read a lot more than this short paragraph can tell you, but the trail is off the Guanella Pass and has amazing views. If you’re hiking a 14er for the first time, one of the best things you can do is buddy up with someone who knows what they’re doing.

For more 14er tips, hit play on this video:

📚 Related Reading: For more Colorado destinations, check out my huge list of the 41 Best Places To Visit In Colorado!

Eldorado Springs to Chautauqua Trail

Boulder

View of the Chautauqua Trail
Views of Chautauqua Park

🥾 Moderate | 6.2 miles | Google Maps | Chautauqua Park Website | 36 minute drive from Denver | Cost: free

The Mesa Trail runs along the Flatirons and connects Chautauqua Park with Eldorado Canyon Road. You may see wildlife and wildflowers along the way, and there are lots of spurs and turnoffs if you want to change up your hike. It’s definitely one of the best activities in the Boulder area.

👉 Want More Hikes Near Boulder? Several are found in Chautauqua Park itself, but also check out my list of the best Boulder area hikes for more trail ideas!

Isabelle Glacier Trail

Brainard Lake Recreation Area

View of the Isabelle Glacier Trail from afar

🥾 Difficult | 8.4 miles | Google Maps | Isabelle Glacier Trail Website | One hour 15 minute drive from Denver | Cost: $12 Daily Use Vehicle fee

This is some of the most gorgeous hiking near Denver that goes through the Indian Peaks wilderness area, beginning at the Long Lake trailhead.

You pass several run-off pools and get sweeping views of the mountains. You may encounter wildlife as well. The elevation gain is only 440 feet, making it one of the best moderate day hikes in the Denver area.

👉 Pro Tip: Brainard Lake has a timed entry system during the summer.  

Central Gardens Trail

Garden of the Gods

View of the rock formations in Garden of the Gods

🥾 Easy | 1 mile | Google Maps | Garden of the Gods Website | One hour and 13 minute drive from Denver | Cost: free

Some of the best easy hiking trails in Colorado Springs can be found at Garden of the Gods. This lollipop loop trail takes you by formations including the Tower of Babel, the Three Graces, and (my personal favorite) the Kissing Camels. Throughout the park, you’ll get beautiful views of the rock formations and Pikes Peak in the distance. 

📚 Related Reading: If you’ll be in Colorado Springs for a while, check out our list of Fun Day Trips Around Colorado Springs

Coyote Valley Trail

Rocky Mountain National Park

View of the Coyote Valley Trail

🥾 Easy | 1 mile | Google Maps | Rocky Mountain National Park Website | Two hour drive from Denver | Cost: $25

This is a very flat ½ mile out and back path that’s great for small kids. It’s also easy for wheelchairs and strollers to navigate, with several benches along the way.

The Estes Park trail follows the Colorado River near its start, with beautiful views of the Never Summer Mountains. There are picnic tables at the start and fishing is allowed in the river.

It’s a great little stroll at Rocky Mountain National Park, and one of the easier hikes in the park’s trail system.

Longs Peak

Rocky Mountain National Park 

View of the Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park

🥾 Expert | 14.8 miles | Google Maps | Rocky Mountain National Park Website | One hour and 27 minute drive from Denver | Cost: $25

The Keyhole Route at Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park is a popular climb, but an extremely challenging hike with a lot of elevation gain.

You’ll need to be well-prepared and have some rock climbing experience, and you’ll need a helmet. Many people start this hike between 2-3 a.m. so that they’re down the mountain before any chance of lightning.

🥾 Want More Hikes? See our guide to the best hikes in Colorado.

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Hopefully, there are enough suggestions for hikes near Denver here to keep you busy for a while! Have you tried any of these? Which do you think are the best hikes near Denver? Let us know in the comments!

👉 BEFORE YOU GO: Check out my list of 41 Best Places to Visit in Colorado or my epic rundown of the 33 Fun Things To Do in Colorado

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